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Raised In A Barn

When our homeschool co-op resumes classes in January, I will be facilitating a class called “Manners Matter.”



Yes, that’s my son enjoying a bowl of cereal. At the dinner table. Without the benefit of a shirt. Or pants. Or a spoon.

I’m not teaching this class because of my vast knowledge on all things manner related. To the contrary. I mean, I’ve been known to lick my plate if a deem a dish particularly delicious. When no one was looking, of course.

Right about now, those few moms who are in my homeschool co-op and read my blog are making a mental note to avoid my class.

I completely understand.

Cailey has already informed me that she will NOT be attending my class. This is the same Cailey who will print “can burp on demand” on her college entrance exam. Under “special skills.”

She will be in the front row come January.

I want my children to have good manners. I want them NOT to make a spectacle of themselves in a restaurant. Any more than is necessary. I want them to answer the phone with mature confidence, “Hello, Fiddle residence,” instead of “HELLO! MY MOM’S IN THE BATHROOM AGAIN.” I want them to address their elders with respect. And I want them to grow into well mannered young ladies and one gentlemen. Who don’t show off their underdrawers when someone is snapping a family photo. I’m just sayin’.

Clearly I have my work cut out for me.

As I’m putting my curriculum together for co-op, I’m asking you, dear readers, to impart your wisdom. What particular lesson in manners would you like to see taught to this young generation.

And just for fun, what has been your greatest “My Child Was Raised By Wolves” horror story.

48 Responses to Raised In A Barn

  • One Thanksgiving we had relatives come to visit. Our house being particularly small made it necessary to find outside activities. One of the days we decided to take the relatives to a nearby tourist attraction. I did not realize that my youngest daughter slipped out of the house wearing very holy (and I’m not talking sacred) socks, particularly the heels, and sandles with her best outfit that I shall only say resembled a clown’s outfit. I’m totally embarrassed when I see her, but it was too late to have her go back and change. We decided to take a break for lunch. My other daughter hadn’t worn any socks and so in a very loud voice in the fast food place asked her sister if she could wear her socks. That was not bad enough. Later in the day we were on a tour bus with about 5 rows between the girls. The youngest daughter realizes that her feet are cold so she yells back to her sister that she’d like her socks back (she did say please at least). So, they were passed up the row by people I don’t know until they reached the proper owner. I wanted to crawl under my seat! By the way these girls were old enough to know better. They were at least 8 and 10.

  • How about teaching the young generation to call their elders by Mr./Miss/Mrs. and also using “Yes Ma ‘am”, “No Ma “am”, “Yes Sir”, “No Sir”, etc. for starters along with please, thank you, etc. We don’t hear that enough these days. . . or am I being old fashioned?

  • One that I can think of is that my 3 kids were all very quiet by nature in public. This means that adults would address them, and they would whisper a response. I have tried and tried to tell them this is rude, esp. when you’re speaking to an older person. They did not intend to be rude, but sometimes shyness gives off that impression. You have to think of the other person instead of how shy you feel in the moment. “Speak up and look people in the eye” is a good one from my experiences.

  • teaching to listen (AKA don’t interrupt)
    Oh, let’s see, there are so many. . .

    How about the time when son #2 was staring at a dinner guest? So much so, that said dinner guest got uncomfortable enough to ask why son was staring.

    Son blurted, “You’ve got rhinosaurus eyes!”
    Or the time (same son), unbeknownst to me, decided to start chucking rocks in a public garden (Keukenhof) and hit some poor French lady in the head. . .

  • This isn’t really “manner” related, but is close enough to the subject matter that I’m going to tell you about it. When our second son was little, he couldn’t pronouce his “R’s”, so when he talked he sounded a lot like Elmer Fudd. The summer that he was 2 or 3 we attended a family reunion. One evening the entire family decided to go to Pizza Hut for dinner. Our son was seated at the end of the table in a high chair. Everyone was talking and laughing and ignoring the little guy when all of a sudden his voice bellows:
    “WHERE’S MY FORK AND KNIFE?!” Only it didn’t sound like that because of the “R” problem. It sounded like,
    “WHERE’S MY F****** KNIFE?!”
    Not only did our entire family stop and turn their heads, so did everyone else in the restaurant. Then suddenly the room burst into laughter.
    Our son is 19 now and is still to this day being teased about his foul mouth.

  • Teach the boys to hold the door open, to to open the door for a lady, to carry packages for the lady, and when you are driving somewhere with a woman, to get out and open the car door for her.


    Horror story…

    We had just moved out to the country. Our landlords had Amish boys over all the time, helping mow, weed, and do general fix-it stuff. My children(4 and 6 at the time) had to go to the bathroom, so instead of coming in…….they let the poor Amish boys see what they were doing. They also decided to sunbathe…in their undies…in front of the same poor Amish boys.

    Those Amish boys will never be the same.

  • One of my pet peeves is guests who refuse to eat the food you have served. I am ashamed to admit that I still feel a little peeved when I remember preparing a special, favorite salad for a guest, who was in her 30’s at the time. She proceeded to pick out and eat all the shrimp and left all the rest of the ingredients untouched. She and her son are often picky about their food. This behavior has nothing to do with any allergies, by the way.

    My husband and I are working hard to teach our children to graciously try food that they don’t care for. Believe me, this has not been easy, and I understand how my children feel because I was a picky eater as a child. But we are trying to prepare them for effective ministry as adults. How can we bring the love of Jesus to an unbeliever when we have just sat at their table and refused to eat their food? Learning this skill is a long process, but we are beginning to see fruit. I have watched our children honor their hosts by eating a little of a food I know they do not like, then look over at me with a little smile.

  • When I did a study on manners with my nephew I used the Manners Made Easy by June Hines Moore. I was SO excited when I saw she had a section on shaking hands properly, and introducing people to one another.

    He still struggles with this, but is getting better.

    I also agree with the “Yes, Ma’am/Sir”, “No Ma’am/Sir” thing. My nephew does remember to say this to everyone though. Well, he does have to be corrected for not saying to us, go figure…

  • I’m a manner gal!! My dd took a manner’s class and she passed — WOO HOO!! I was so excited… but she had some funny stories to tell. Apparently no one told her it was bad manners to laugh at others (but it was funny!)

    Elbows on the table, napkin on the lap, utensil down between each bite… Oh — I love manners. 😉

    I like all the suggestions above.

    When my dh leaves the door open, I say, “What were you born in a barn?”

    DH’s reply: “No — on a hillside, and the door slammed shut.” (It took me years to figure that out.)

    Good luck on your class… I think it is one much needed today!

  • This is probably the least of your worries, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Please teach the boys to take off their hats when they are inside.

  • My most embarrasing “lack of manners” moment arose when my oldest son was about 4 years old. We had been discussing how big he was getting and we were allowing him to measure himself against us to see how tall he was. The next day, a Sunday after church, we went to a family restaraunt with my in-laws for lunch. All of the sudden my sweet boy declared at the top of his lungs, “Hey, Nana, I am almost as tall as my Mommy’s crack!”–Yes, he was referring to my backside.

  • When my daughter was about three, we were eating dinner in an Applebees after enjoying the day at the circus.

    I was sitting opposite her in a booth, and I could see her watching the people coming in the restaurant and being seated.

    Suddenly, she jumps up on the seat and shrieks, “Mommy! What dat clown doin’ here!!!” in her loudest voice just as a man with a fringe of unruly balding red hair passes our table.

    I guess her age excused her on that incident, but we have many discussions about staring or commenting on people’s appearances.

  • My 4-year old son peed in the bushes in front of church! He told me he needed to go potty, and I told Daddy to take him. Buddy walked away after that, so I thought it was taken care of. Then I look up and see my son facing the church, with a puddle around him. My son peed in the bushes at church!!!

    As for manners, I just want my kids to learn about respect. What respect means and how we show it to one another. We need some work on this in our house.

  • Well, my oldest is just about to turn two, so I guess you can´t expect much at that age. I have to say I´m a bit daunted by all the manners suggested on here, plus my boys have to learn what is acceptable in two cultures, since they are half Canadian, half Guatemalan.

    Right now our biggest issue is that he will try any food, but if he doesn´t like it, he just spits it out. On the floor. In other people´s houses. Obviously something to work on.

  • Saying thankyou for gifts is a handy one.
    My kids were taught this and so was I when I was small. The gift is not truly yours until you say thanks.

    My daughter aged about 3 once climbed on a bed ina house hubby,she and son were visiting and bounced up and down.
    My mortified husband had to duck under the retaining ropes and haul her off Queen Elizabeths the first’s bed ,it was the tower of london 🙂

  • There’s a kid’s book called “What do You Say, Dear?” (can’t remember the author) that deals with different situations and what the polite thing to say is in those situations. But let’s be honest folks, the best way to teach manners is by good old fashioned modeling (trust me, I need to work on this myself!!!). My biggest thing is “please” and “thank you”. I’m amazed at the number of children who never use those words.

  • Yes ma’am
    No sir
    Looking people in the eye when they talk to them.

    Maybe not the greatest horror story ever, but a few weeks ago, my daughter shot her straw wrapper at the waitress – http://commonmom.com/daily-life/flying-straw-jet/

  • Your son would fit right in at our house. I swear that every picture I have of my 3 kids together one of them is in some state of undress!
    My biggest thing is saying ma’am and sir. My oldest is 4 1/2 and we figure if we start now they might have a chance of getting it. My parents were really big on this and I am thankful because at least I sounded like I was polite (if I didn’t always act like it).

  • Well, of course the best way to teach manners is to show manners.
    Other than that, I’d really like to see children respecting the adults around them. I simply hate being called by my first name from a child 20 years younger than me.
    I wasn’t allowed to call an adult by their first name at all until I was about 20 years old. Then it was only because they pretty much demanded I do so.
    That whole notion of, “It makes me feel old.” is ridiculous. To a child, we are old. They should learn to respect Mrs. Jones, not Leah. How else will they learn that its Mr. President, not George Bush, or Pastor Hildreth, not Lynn.
    I’m just sayin’, we’ve let our youngens get away with lack of respect for too long.
    Sorry for the soap box!

  • I think every picture I have of Jonathan until he was 3 required him to be in just a diaper. Frankly, I can’t remember him wearing clothes before that.

    Except for the ones where Kati has in him her dresses and hats. Yeah- those are keepers for the girlfriends to come.

    As for horror stories … well, we called it “life” around here.

  • My biggest pet peeve is when kids interrupt. And I need help teaching my stepdaughter to stop interrupting forgoodnesssake. It’s like she’s in her own world and when she has a thought she wants to express, she busts out of her world and into the conversation.

    So help a motha out and email me if you have any suggestions. 🙂

  • One of the favorite phrases I ever heard was this, “Yes and no are two words that should never be spoken alone.” It should be “Yes, Please. Yes, I’d love some. Yes, that is a beautiful dress. etc…” and “No, thank you. No, I don’t care for any. etc…”

    As for embarrassing moments, your comment box isn’t big enough, but just yesterday, what should have been embarrassing actually made me just a little bit proud….My 6 year old daughter and I were in Target searching for her perfect Christmas dress, when we wandered through the “unmentionables”. I was one rack ahead of her when I heard her shriek “Oh My! I know those are supposed to be panties, and they are in the mommy size section, but those are JUST TOO LITTLE FOR ANYBODY TO BE WEARING!!!”

    I assumed she was looking at a thong, but it was actually a pair of micro-boyshort style undies. I was just so pleased that she would find them inappropriate, that I just agreed with her, “Yes Maddie, those ARE too little for ANYONE!”

  • How do you stop them from talking to me whn I am on the phone? I have done everything BUT sew their lips shut! Tempting !

  • I like my kids to use Sir and Ma’am even though we live in MN and sometimes get strange looks from people when they do. One day my 4 year old was in the day care at the grocery store. The window washer was working that morning in that room. Son flung a toy and nearly missed the window washer. (The toy WAS one that intended to be flung, like a superman or something like that). The worker asked Aidan if he was trying to hit him. When Aidan answered “no sir” the window washer just about fell off his ladder in surprise! Obviously this meant enough to him to tell mommy!

    One summer during a garage sale my oldest son came over and whispered to me, “Mommy, that man looks like Curious George.” When I looked over to see a man with brown skin, dark buzzed hair and sticking out ears I was VERY thankful to have taught him that sometimes words can hurt and that he should never make comments about someone’s appearance! But, he was right, the man DID have a striking resemblence to George!

  • Respect for adults. Our boys call our friends Mr and Mrs, their kids don’t and that bothers me. I hate being called Miss Katy. Anyway, another one is teaching kids to sit on their bum. My kids know how, not a hard concept. But I have kids over where the chair is 5 ft from the table with only the childs toes touching the chair and the child who is not even for feet is across my kitchen table with their elbows on the table.

    We have fun at our family table when it’s just us, but the boys 8 & 5 know that not everything we do at our table is approriate outside of our home.

    I will take any tips that you have as well.

  • Manners 101 would include

    Not interrupting or correcting others during a conversation.

    Table manners.

    Appropriate flatulence control or release if unavoidable.

    A firm, sincere greeting and handshake.

    Gracious acceptance of a compliment.

  • My little one, ever since he’s been fully potty trained, constantly grabs his private parts. I don’t know if this is to reassure himself that his has not peed on himself, or just for fun. Anyway, I’m constantly asking him if he has to go to the bathroom. He (almost) always says no. So I tell him to stop holding himself. Now he yells out -whether it’s at home or in the middle of a store – “I’m just holding my penis!”
    *sigh* We need your class.

  • There’s a cute song on the Handwriting Without Tears CD about having manners when you meet someone and it’s catchy. The lyrics go something like this: Give ’em your right hand, look ’em in the eye, put a smile on your face, then you say hi”. I hear my son singing those words and I love it because eye contact is something I’m always reminding him about. I think it’s such an important “manner” in life. Also, teaching kids how to give a good handshake – no one wants to shake a dead fish, right?

  • Well manners are of great importance here at the House of Antique and we spend a lot of time on that, especially where it concerns respect and consideration of others. AD is a stickler about table manners, I am less so because too few are the years when you can sit at the dinner table without pants.

    Sean does pretty good, although recently he ran screaming through Barnes and Noble “Mommy I gotta poop! I gotta poop!” Emily Post would probably cringe at that.

  • My dd-6 always has a problem with gas, and she likes to expell it anywhere and anyhow. It never fail, during services, we hear this ripe bubbly from her. With a big grin of course. We made the mistake of reading a book to her called “The Gas We Pass” (I think that was the name, we colored in some pants for some the pictures in the book.) It talked about how unhealthy it is to hold it in. We are now explaining that when your away from home especially, you need to leave the room.

    I really hope that you share what your curriculum will be about. We are in the process of starting a co-op next year and manners is one of the suggestions for a class.

  • Please teach your students the proper way to use the telephone. I get FED ENTIRELY UP with PROFESSIONALS who call our home with their ATROCIOUS telephone manners.

    Rule 1: Introduce yourself FIRST!

    Rule 2: Inquire whether the party to whom you wish to speak is AVAILABLE. It’s none of your business if he or she is “there”.


    Hello. This is Bolivar Shagnasty. I’m calling for Clemntine Buttercup. Is she available?

    Incorrect, wrong, rude, deplorable, detestable:

    ‘s Clem there?

    ::dismounting soapbox::


  • Help kids learn to enjoy a variety of foods. We had a ‘no thank you’ serving for our kids if they didn’t care for something. Negative or rude comments about the food should not be tolerated.

    We said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to our kids from the time they were small, so they learned to use those words appropriately very early on.

    We tried to teach the general principles of respect for people and property and had plenty of situations to bring these concepts home… whew, plenty!

    When our fifth child was about three, we were having a dinner with a lot of people sitting at our long table. One of our guests was a young woman, about 25, from Taiwan, named Nee Wah. She was sitting next to our three year old daughter, who was trying to get her attention, but she was turned the other way, talking to someone else. After saying her name several times and getting no response, she yelled, “Hey you! Chinese kid!” A stunned silence filled the room before we all had to laugh. Oh my.

  • My horror story – last entry on the blog…which I’m ever so faithful about not keeping up. And Reagan isn’t her real name – it’s Mia – I just call her Reagan because of all the exorcism moments she creates.

    She asked a couple days after this humilitation if I noticed that she looked around after the passing as if to say, “Who did that?” Sadly, she looked at me first.

  • One evening when my son was about 6 he and my then 4 year old daughter were watching a movie and Superhubby and I decided to go to the bedroom and talk, and we were just talking with the door open but we went there to get a little peace and quiet. The phone rang and I heard my son answer it and say “hello” then he paused and I heard “no Grandpa she and dad are in their bed laying together again.” He was saying exactly what he meant because we did lay in bed and talk quite a lot , most of the time with both kids crawling over us but I’m sure my dad got a chuckle out of it.

  • My six year old is fond of discussing popping one’s eyeballs out and eating them while we eat dinner. It’s very lovely.

  • Oooh, there is alot of good manners goin’ on out there. This isn’t so much manners and you might totally disagree with me, but I have noticed that so many of the teenagers wear the crudiest clothes to church, but boy will they dress up in their finest for a school dance! Doesn’t our Lord derserve it too?

    As far as my horror story….

    We adopted our girls when they were 5 and 3. Piece a cake, they were! My son comes two years later at age three. I couldn’t wait to show him off. I took them to a family reunion and as my son started to bite into his hot dog he announced to the world, “My new daddy has a p*n*s! My Uncle Roger died laughing as I was dying of embarassment!

  • Teach them modesty! My three year old boy is fascinated with “boombas” where he picked it up from we do not know. He has been known to lift my shirt up in walmart, ( for I am blessed) and yell Boomba Boomba Boomba while pointing at them. Always makes me want to dive under the cart. Now we are working on not commenting on all the boombas he observes when we go out. He actually asked hubby for the camera the other day so he could take a picture of some. At lease we know he is wired correctly.

  • Since we went camping earlier this summer and we HAD to let my son pee outside, he has insisted several times on going outside for the sole purpose OF peeing. I don’t mind so much if it is in the fenced in backyard. A while back though, he came wandering in the house and I had not even noticed that he was gone (I know, “good mother award” right here, eh?) anyway, I asked him where he had been and he said outside IN THE FRONT YARD going POOP! Hello mortified! And to make it worse, when I asked him if anyone saw, he said that our babysitters father had driven past in his car and waved at him! I DIED! 😀

  • Hi there! Sorry I haven’t stopped by in awhile. It’s been sooo c-r-a-z-y around my house…decorating, shopping, wrapping, etc., plus I was out of town for the weekend. It’s been fun reading all your posts I’ve missed.

  • My kids are now both young teens…when they were younger and started answering the phone, we taught them to answer it as such: “Hello, this is Lindsay speaking, may I help you?”… and if they’re calling someone, it’s: “Hi, this is Lindsay, may I speak with Mary?”… The deal was, if they want to use the phone, they have to be able to be polite. And they are, to this day. And I still get compliments on them for their phone manners.

  • Awww, that’s nothing! My son can belch the alphabet on command! And of course the famous, “Aunt Lori, Who’s your new “flavour” of the week?”
    (Mental note, hide in the basement when having “gossipy” phone calls from friends…lol)
    I love this blog! How do I subscribe or post or whatever?
    PS I saw you on “about” too!
    Thanks, Patti

  • One other thing that I have noticed about American’s in general is that men do not take off their hats during the National Anthem and about 95% of the attending population do not cover their hearts with their hands.

  • My daughter announced to all within a 2-mile radius of Checkout 23 in Target:

    “Mama! MA!MA! Dere’s dat lady dat made da stinky poop in da bafroom!”

    as she jumped and pointed conspicuously at an unfortunate soul a few lanes over.

    Me: “Oh, Darlin’, now, sshhh, calm down, lookee here! kleenex! batteries!”

    Her: “It IS her, Mama! She has de same ugwy shoes!”

    Proof, my friends, that one cannot, in fact, die of embarrassment. No matter how much one might wish to.

  • When Jonathan was about 5, and still in public school he heard a new word. A word we had, as yet, not introduced our son or daughter, too. Not had we planned on it for about, say, 5 or 6 years.

    The scene:

    We lived in a cute, little cottage house on a flag lot, and all the windows are high off the ground- ie the kids can’t see through them. Our front yard was behind our front neighbors back yard, and two of our neighbors (left and right) shared a common fence with our backyard.

    It’s Saturday. Every one of our neighbors is out on their years, with their kids.

    John and I send the kids (again who are 5 and 6) to the backyard to play so we can talk.

    Talk. I swear.

    So, all is hunky dory and Jonathan decides he needs to know what we’re doing.

    So he stands below our bedroom window yelling. Screaming. And since we are teaching him not to do this, we ignore him.

    He gets worked up into a panic and screams- at the top of his dynamically acoustic 5 year old lungs- “ARE YOU TWO DOING S*X?”


    We were the talk of the annual picnics and get together for months to come.

  • Oh, I’ve missed your blog! This whole thread is just hilarious. Yes, our children do love to embarrass us, but we have our payback when we get to embarrass them. LOL My offspring are now 18 and almost 20yo. So I have lots of good stories and photos. I just posted a whole slew of pics of my son in honor of his 18th bday. One is decked out in all the jewelry from Pretty Pretty Princess. 😉

    We always did the Mr. and Mrs. thing until the adults insisted they call them by their first name. My husband is retired military and when we spent the weekend with our friends and her parents, kept calling her dad Mr. (last name.) He finally told my husband, “The name is Darryl, by the way.” My husband responded, “Yes, sir!” And that’s all he would call him.

    I agree with the others who said modeling the manners is the best way to teach them. But keep in mind the age of the child and their ability to pick up the habits and remember them. It takes a while. 😉 But treating the children with respect usually leads to the children showing respect in return. And how the mom & dad treat each other also speaks volumes. I’ve seen lots of couples who set very bad examples and then wonder why their kids are acting out.

  • The “Thank you” note. This has long been a pet peeve of mine – especially when I have sent a gift via the mail. You have no clue if it arrived or was lost in the mail – b/c someone could not bother to write a thank you note.

    A few times I have contacted the person I sent it to – after waiting a long enough time.

    What is the deal! A good friend of mine who is very well mannered – I have given presents to her kids – outside of their parties – and NO COMMENT. NO THANK YOU (verbal or written). It is so unlike the rest of her character.

  • I’m laughing with you and not at you… as I observe a certain six year old girl with her nightgown pulled up over her head, bottom in the air trying to fit a blueberry muffin in her mouth. Grace. Poise. Elegance. We’ve got it all!

  • I think you also have to keep regional manners in mind. Down here in The South, it’s perfectly acceptable to call an adult Mr. or Mrs. FirstName. So I hope nobody from up North gets offended at not getting called Mrs. LastName, when they visit down here! 😀

    My own personal horror story:

    When I was about 3 or 4, we went to go pick up my dad from work and were waiting in the parking lot. This big, hairy, bearded man passed in front of our car and I – with the windows wide open, of course – pointed and announced to my mother, “Look, Mom! It’s a G’RILLA man!”